One of the biggest hits of 2016, ERASED finally makes its way to physical release here in the UK. Based on the seinen manga The Town Without Me, written and illustrated by Kei Sanbe, ERASED manages to blend the themes of mystery, murder and sci-fi/fantasy very well into a complete whole.
The series focuses on Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old manga artist who has the ability to go back in time a few seconds whenever something life-threatening is about to happen, an ability he calls “Revival”. Bizarrely, while he has helped many people with this mysterious power, he doesn’t actually let it dominate his life and in fact is living a quiet, mundane existence otherwise. When his mother comes home to visit him after he was hurt using the ability, the two end up encountering a suspicious person and stop a potential child kidnapping thanks to Revival (unbeknownst to them, though his mother later has an idea…) Later they both remember an incident 18 years ago where several girls from Satoru’s school, or nearby schools, went missing, leading to Satoru’s mother to look deeper into the old case thanks to her contacts as a reporter…
Soon a sudden and unpleasant series of events happen and “Revival” sends him back 18 years to this time of kidnappings and possible murder. Trapped in the body of his 10-year-old self, Satoru must piece together both the events in the past and the events he saw in the present in the hopes to save everyone involved in both. A lot of these early episodes focus on Satoru trying to get close to tragically abused child Kayo in order to stop her from becoming the first victim of the apparent kidnappings, and despite all the negative things that are going on around them, it’s a rather sweet storyline to see unfold…
As you can probably guess, it’s a hard series to talk about without giving spoilers, and, trust me, you want to go into the series fresh. It has some neat twists and turns, and generally does a great job of keeping you guessing. It’s a shame the 12-episode series has been split over two releases, because this is the kind of thing where you could accidentally watch multiple episodes in a row one night and “marathon” through it in a day or two. The animation is nice, with occasional signs of greatness. Most of the footage set in the past is framed with cinematic black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, giving it a greater feeling of viewing something old rather than experiencing something new, even though obviously to us as viewers it’s all new, but to our protagonist he’s living in his own memories. In fact the whole presentation of the Revival ability is based around a motif of old cinema film, and it’s nicely presented.
I’ll also mention the English dub, which is perfectly fine. I’ll admit that while I sometimes watch shows dubbed, these shows set in extremely Japanese settings always seem at odds with the English language, but if you’re fine with it, the leading cast are good, really it’s just a few of the children at school that can be distracting, suffering as they do from “generic American school kid voice syndrome” that makes it sound like a cartoon rather than a dubbed anime (if you know what I mean…)
The opening theme for the series is “Re:Re” by Asian Kung-Fu Generation, while the ending is “It’s like a Small Light” by Sayuri. The on-disc extras are a pair of audio commentaries with the English dub cast and crew for Episodes 1 and 6, some trailers and the good old textless opening and ending. The psychical blu-ray comes in a rigid cardboard case and has a 92-page book with a bunch of bios, pictures, timelines and interviews.
Now I know a lot of people will be complaining at the price, given at the end of the day that it only contains 6 episodes, and that’s a fair point. While the book I’m sure is nice, it is expensive for what it is (especially combining it with however much Part 2 will be), but from all I’ve read about it, it was out of Anime Limited’s hands. For the foreseeable, it’s one of those “this or nothing” situations that couldn’t be avoided.
I do highly recommend ERASED based off of the first 6 episodes alone. It tells a unique story, blends several complex themes together effectively and the characters are extremely well realised and either relatable or detestable. It’s a twisty and turny tale that’s worth your time going out of your way to see.